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one size fits all

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Class/Type: Misc /Misc
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if he is not careful it is going to happen again and there is absolutely nothing i can do about it

one size fits all

it was a culmination of
that lead us to
Ward 5.

We were as
as he was.
looking at posters
on spotting the signs of meningitis early
and help lines to give up smoking
and donating the blood
that had been drawn out of our faces
and the curtains
and the other patients
who were whiter than us
and as white as he was
and walking without direction
like retired zombies,


the reason to live had
long gone
from their eyes.
rounded shoulders
hanging heads and
trailing arms
told stories of time spent
living and breathing

to be here
was defeat
for all.
in what had been
a life long battle
that ran so far back;
infinitely entangled,
there was no tangible start,
no specific victim,
no innocent bystander
and no scapegoat.
We just wanted to see his face
and hold his hand
and for him to know that
he had not been


it started early.
He was dragged up
and around the house
by his father
who hit through him
for sixteen years
the melancholy he held inside
for the death of his wife.
the siblings who assumed
maternal and then paternal positions
soon followed the same way,
to the same place,
as far away as they could ever be.

time acted like carbon dating
on his spirit and visage;

a working life that bears
the stresses and scars
on the outside,
wearing the impact of pain
like a Kevlar vest
worn too tightly around the chest.
a huge sleep debt
that can never be reclaimed
and business that owes
a decade of sabbaticals.
the introspective pressure
of owning many things
and having few
and the deja-vu in the slipping away
of the few things that matter the most.

except One.

the turning to things for help
that can't help,
and will not help;
dependency on things that can't talk
and objects that have no heart.
blurring vision already impaired,
polluting lungs already noxious,
poisoning blood already bitter,

the resisting of that and those
that really can help,
and want to help;
like chasing a tail tied to a lamppost,
stubborn and down syndrome tense.
the potency of automatic defence
too strong to break
or crack
or smash
or shake violently,
too deaf to speak to
or shout at
or fucking scream at.

until now.

we watched as he slowly fell apart.
a life and a past that came out of nowhere
and everywhere at the same moment in time.
a childhood scribbled on paper
in a language only half English.
the concentration span of an infant
burning cigarette holes in fabric and skin.
stealing plants and trees from garden centres
only to return them in proof that
they were under staffed and inefficient.
crude poetry of filthy sex
and indecent proposals
to a wife he had always loved and protected like a
naked processions in private and public that
wore old brown slippers to the bone.

and the numb amnesia of it all.

the rejection of everything.

and everyone.

we watched as he was mauled to the ground like a wild animal.
it took three of them
on the grass outside our front garden,
a cattle prod
and straight jacket straps
that tighten around the ankles and knees,
to break his strength and his

we watched as they wheeled him away like a fruit machine,
bounded and gagged and
squealing like a terror stricken piglet
with hypothermic convulsions
that made us


the visits were short.
there is not much you can say to a stranger
that you think you know.
you learn that you can never learn enough,
you learn that there is no help from those supposed to help
reflections of small talk
echoed in the communal visitors room
which smells and tastes of chlorine.
speech and sentiment
and the pauses
grow ever more uncomfortable
and increase the distance
from the place he was at
to the place that used to be
he would elude simple questions
and engage in conspiracies of escape before
falling asleep
on the chair
by the window,
and we would leave him there until tomorrow.

Submitted on 2006-02-09 15:20:12     Terms of Service / Copyright Rules
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  What do I say about this? The PATIENCE-

...--THAT's what grabs me, is the damn patience in the voice of the collective narrator. How he notes every relevant detail, keeps talking, looking you in the eye like he's said it a million times before, he's got it perfect and no, he's not gonna [censored] it up, he knows his timing, blah blah blah. Every word part of a cycle of building-up and smashing-down. The intensity built upon or lessened, but for the most part, each line comes down like a hammer against the ...a window in my head. I'm not sure where I was going with that, but the constant, persistent, patient onward! drive of the voice of the narrator just killed me. Thanks for that.
| Posted on 2006-11-08 00:00:00 | by lukewarm | [ Reply to This ]
  Ei Rob.

I grew up in hospitals... I would always accompany my mom during her rounds and I would see these "no abortion adds" wherein there were pre-mature babies on jars where you'd usually put digested frogs. And I asked one of the nurses one time...

"if you are against, where do you get the babies?"

"First of all, sweetie, I'm not a nurse. Not yet. I'm an intern. I only like to wear white. And I don't get the babies. But I was told that they are those that died in the wombs of the mothers they took with them. What are you doing here anyway? Aren't you supposed to be in school or something?"

"But it's Sunday."

"Oh... Sorry."

The piece itself, in my opinion, was well written. It's like there wasn't a corner spared by your writing-eye. Every shape was scrutinized with fairly sound third-party voice.

Well, it seems that everyone has already touched what I wanted so... later.
| Posted on 2006-03-11 00:00:00 | by ANGELO | [ Reply to This ]
  ...yes, it seems that one size fits all. i've sat back from this for a while now because i've been watching my dad being fitted for a suit this size: a slightly different style and colour i daresay but the size is pretty much the same...

he's on the wrong end of a brace of heart attacks that have conspired to scupper his grasp on reality for a little while.

and your hero it seems is on the wrong end of something else but the resultant equal misery for all is entirely recognisable.

i am especially atuned to the remorselessness of your narrative: it echoes the maniac need to search for and find coping mechanisms whilst the other is beyond coping at least for a while.

this is really well observed, in a way that reeks of having been there and thus it has impeccable integrity too.

the awkwardness of the opening 6 lines sets the scene well, whether or not you wanted to mix the tenses in lines 1 and 5 - it had the effect of making me hop from one foot to the other, if you know what i mean and i found it difficult to keep both feet on the floor thereafter...

i simply see this as a well told tale that requires little in the way of imagination to appreciate it, just a keen eye for detail and an empathy for the carefully placed and chosen words...

show and tell.

scratch and sniff.

take it easy mate. i'll be in touch. later,

| Posted on 2006-02-27 00:00:00 | by Awkward | [ Reply to This ]
  I feel like I've read this, or parts of this, before. Specifically the "fruit machine" reference. But perhaps I am mistaken...

This is quite the epic piece. But I can find no way to shorten or tighten it without losing a multitude of emotions and images that are necessary to the core of the story you are telling. Every word is just as important as the next and they all culminate into this amazing piece of writing.

This feels real, personal, heart-breakingly sad. The stand out lines for me were:

"like chasing a tail tied to a lamppost,
stubborn and down syndrome tense.
the potency of automatic defence
too strong to break"

Strong, intense imagery and description, not to mention the will behind them, is what gives this piece its power.

An excellent write. Thanks for sharing.

| Posted on 2006-02-12 00:00:00 | by drowning_queen | [ Reply to This ]
  Just by reading the title I wasn't sure what to expect from this poem. The title "one size fits all" is very versatile and in a way keeps this type of mystery to the poem and it lets you experiment with your thoughts meanwhile you read it. I really like the fact that you didn't give a typical strait out title because if you would have done a title like that, then that limits the reader with their imagination, rather than to have a bit more thought to the real message of the poem. I'm so sorry that I rambled about the title, I tend to ramble a lot on these comments . Anyway so just reading this poem gave me the chills it has this raw effect (even though it's easy to tell that you took your time writing this piece, because it's truly sensational) and the descriptions of every situation, feeling, experience it just feels real :/ Meanwhile I was reading this poem I kept imagining these situations and it really creeped me out in a way -_- darn I'm rambling again... it's just I can't really find a way to describe what this poem made me feel, it was really wierd feeling between awe, disgust, sadness, and anger. Ok well I have to end this comment before it gets too long and you feel like shooting me, so yeah the format is very unique and eloquent, has a lot of modernist characteristics. hmm I think I only found one minor spelling mistake... I think defence is written with an s instead of a c. Great poem I'm really impressed by this piece and sorry for all the rambling.
| Posted on 2006-02-10 00:00:00 | by nj | [ Reply to This ]
  i found this one hard to digest. but let me explain. i fear three things in life- drowning, suffocating (kind of the same thing, really) and losing my mind- most of all, the last one. how it could ever be that a person can in a few short years undo all the things he's spent his lifetime building... and not even know he's done it.

the way you chop lines up into single words makes the whole thing work like magic. it's choppy, it's clipped, it's real. there's no embellishment or glamour to it.
i keep scrolling back up to the lines

"and walking without direction
like retired zombies,


i get a lot of impressions from the writings i read, but very rarely do i actually feel fear. once again, i suppose it's a personal issue, but this piece really has captured the essence of the moment. it's like you took an acrophobe up to the top of the empire state building and said, "hey, listen to this..."
lots more i could say, but i don't want to be a buzzkill for others who will read this and then pick their jaw up off the floor.
the structure is great, and the images are chillingly effective. i came to feel for those who who were unlucky enough to realize where they were just as much as i feel for those who have lost such an ability.
peace out.
| Posted on 2006-02-09 00:00:00 | by ghostknight | [ Reply to This ]
  Don't really have that much to add that has not already been touched on by the other comments. I did appriciate the stanza breaks though. They were well placed to both accent the poem itself, and to give us readers a good place to catch our breaths.

| Posted on 2006-02-09 00:00:00 | by FrankBlissett | [ Reply to This ]
  hey i wrote a lighter piece on this same subject. i called it 'Lethe'. happens to all, i guess. or at least with greater frequency. they used to call it senility. who knows what it'll be called when our peers are dropping like flies, though. good write. kinda made me hate him, though.
| Posted on 2006-02-09 00:00:00 | by ruejacobs | [ Reply to This ]
  I think this is an excellent piece as it is. Redemtion is for fantasy and this is far to real to need it.
I especially loved the internal rhythm. It didn't have any faltering place, or any lines that seemed to forced or unsure. I thought it was a great poetic piece on the descent of a man and I loved it.
This is probably not the best comment as, personally, I found little to critique as it was thought out and well written.
| Posted on 2006-02-09 00:00:00 | by Onichan | [ Reply to This ]
  I think this is a repost, no? or you wrote something similar before. anyway, no difference except to say that I remember the story and how it impacted me before and how it impacts me now and that I felt it was a breakthrough for you at the time because it was just so [censored] honest and at the time you weren't sharing a whole lot with us. This is as good as it gets my man. and I will take a copy back with me and get the hell out of your face because I have nothing or any worth to offer. I wouldn't dream of changing a word or a comma or anything else. I'll just selfishly enjoy it and commend you on your brilliance.
| Posted on 2006-03-09 00:00:00 | by deadndreaming | [ Reply to This ]
  A sad story indeed. The man was suffering from a classic show of grief for having lost a loved one. I would add a last few lines to the poem sort of to tell of your present sharing in grief,such as: we slowly left with a heaviness of guilt
we did not recognise a man in grief
calling out for help
we only thought the crudeness of his nature
was criminal instead of a man in need
of counselling before it was too late.

Then you can go all out and evaporate all that was in the past. It is a truistic poem that needs some redemptive value in its telling.
| Posted on 2006-02-09 00:00:00 | by realpoet | [ Reply to This ]
  I remeber this from before, it was excellent then and is much stronger and hits even harder now; you fleshed it out, right?
There is no way I can empathise or imagine your point of view or rather, without this there's no way I could empathise. The long drawl of words relating this tale seem almost indifferent, there's no extreme feeling that usually fills paternal writes (and I'm glad, I can't take another "fuck you, Daddy!" poem)....
Definitely don't have anything to offer. However it's always a bonus to re-read a post and derive as much pleasure as the initial assesment.
And I like the carbon-dating on souls by Time. Maybe God slices us open at the End and counts our rings, sees how much we lived, whether we ever had any fire at all in the middle.
Excellent revision, anyway!
| Posted on 2006-04-23 00:00:00 | by Learah | [ Reply to This ]

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